Spain First: The Return of the Falange

After 1975, the remnants of Franco’s Falange Española de las Juntas de Ofensiva Nacional Sindicalista were scattered across Spain, and found minimal support – despite attempts to consolidate power during the early years of the democracy. Numerous political parties aspired to claim the Falange as their own over the next forty years—most simply disappearing. In 1976, a political party composed of some of the most radical members of the old Falange, reconstituted themselves as a new political party, the Falange Española de las JONS.

The new Falange Española de las JONS distanced itself from Franco, and instead attempted to chain its history to José Antonio Primo de Rivera, the founder of the original Spanish fascist party, the Falange Española. Since 1939, José Antonio’s legacy had been carefully guarded by his sister, Pilar Primo de Rivera, who ensured that his biography be included in children’s textbooks, and also re-published her brother’s works through the Sección Feminina, the women’s section of the Falange. By 1997, the Falange Española de las JONS encountered a crisis as many of its members broke off into another radical right-wing party, simply called ‘La Falange’.

In early 2018, emboldened by the re-emergence of a radical right in the form of Vox, previously marginalized and subdivided Falangist and radical right parties created an alliance or identitarian front. It borrowed from the rhetoric of U.S. President Donald Trump and the ideology and aestheticism of other ‘Identitarian’ groups in Europe to create their own coalition ‘Identidad Española’. Composed of four right-wing parties, the Falange Española de las JONS, La Falange, Democracia Nacional, and Alternativa Española, nicknamed themselves ‘ADÑ.’ ADÑ, or “ANTE TODO ESPAÑA, translates as ‘Spain First’—most likely inspired by Donald Trump’s “America First” platform, demonstrating the usefulness of Trumpian rhetoric to fascist parities. Rather than explicitly anti-immigrant rhetoric, like Trump, ADÑ asks to ‘effectively control our borders’.

With just under 2,000 Facebook followers, ADÑ attempts a minimalist aesthetic, and utilizes the slogan ‘Somos como somos. Somos como tú. Pensamos como tú!’ [We are how we are. We are like you. We think like you!]. In short videos, and at local meetings, ADÑ often uses Spanish classical guitar to evoke sort of “typical Spanish” ambiance.

One post by ADÑ from September 2018 read:

“RECLAIMING THE CHRISTIAN TRADITION AS THE BASIS FOR VALUES AND EUROPEAN CULTURE

Faced with the ideologies that seek to reconfigure our societies according to a new anthropology, Spain must reaffirm its traditional values. Values of dignity and liberty that constitute the legacy of Europe that deserves to be rescued. A moral rearmament is necessary to lead us to be the vanguard in defence of life and the natural family.

Europe cannot harbour in its midst States founded on cultures alien to Christian civilization that put our culture and model of coexistence at risk.”

ADÑ has had meetings in Cartagena (Murcia), Almería, Madrid, and Valladolid. One woman, Magdalena, often with a male counterpart, opens gatherings using a tactic meant to appeal to commonalities held amongst Spaniards. Phrases include: ‘I like walking the city’; ‘I’m about my family’; ‘I’m honest’; ‘I’m part of the church’; ‘I’m very proud of forming part of Spain’; ‘I’m all about paella’; ‘And who isn’t?’ They continue: ‘We are for the defence of life. We are of values. We are happy, passionate’. This is then followed by more explicitly nationalist speeches from party leaders.

In Almeria, Magdalena broke from her standard opening, but still attempted to bring the audience together, this time against the left: ‘Democratic tolerance! They call us fascists, but I call them cowards! Cowards! They don’t dare to let us speak. They don’t dare to listen first, and then later ask questions or critique what they think necessary’.

In this moment, Magdalena does not deny the label of ‘fascist’ but instead demonstrates frustration from the left’s refusal to debate the fundamental human rights of refugees, people of colour, and queer people.

Both ADÑ and Vox are positioning themselves to take advantage of social media, 21st century aesthetics, Eurosceptism, distrust in the centrist right Partido Popular and rising popular fears of a shift in demographics in order to infuse their radical right discourse into the public sphere. Of course, this is a tactic that is seen across Europe – echoing tactics pioneered by the like of ‘Britain First’ in the UK.

More pertinently, however, this display of transnationalism is demonstrated in the president of Democracia Nacional, one of the constituent parts of ADÑ, also serving on the board of the trans-European ‘Alliance for Peace and Freedom’, a radical right alliance that received funding from the European Parliament in both 2016 and 2017. To be sure, although these radical right political parties place themselves in contrast to the European Union, they are more than willing to use the systems they oppose in order to take financial advantage. More worrying, these more mainstream funded projects allows the AND to find its  way back into the mainstream.

Dr Louie Dean Valencia-García is a Senior Fellow at CARR and Assistant Professor of Digital History at Texas State University. His profile can be found here.

©Louie Dean Valencia-García. Views expressed on this website are individual contributors and do not necessarily reflect that of the Centre for Analysis of the Radical Right (CARR). We are pleased to share previously unpublished materials with the community under creative commons license 4.0 (Attribution-NoDerivatives).

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